In other words, as uninsured residents enter the market,
companies must appeal to individual buyers, vs. relying solely on
tried-and-true business-to-business marketing techniques. The first
hurdle, of course, has been to deal with the technical glitches
that have plagued the federal health-exchange website. The site,
used by 36 states, offers health plans operated by companies such
as Health Care Service Corp.
Mr. Rodgers discussed the glitches and explained how his company
is changing its marketing and data-gathering techniques in response
to health-care reform.
Ad Age: Are you frustrated by the shaky rollout
Mr. Rodgers: I know the individuals who have
not been able to access the site or who have not been able to
complete the enrollment process must be frustrated … [But]
there is some time here for the growing pains of the process to
work out before anyone is really impacted. And that's what we try
to tell the folks that call us. We try to remind them that your
coverage wouldn't be effective until Jan. 1 anyway, so we will keep
working with you and with the federal government to make sure that
... your coverage is effective on that date.
Age: How have you changed your marketing to reach
Mr. Rodgers: We've had to, first of all, figure
out who those people are. We've been pretty good in the past about
using business data, buying information from Dun & Bradstreet
and others to profile corporate clients. But we have had to learn
to delve into the individual-buyer marketplace, and a lot of these
people today aren't even buyers, they are uninsured.
Ad Age: What data sources have you tapped to
find those people?
Mr. Rodgers: Because many of our new clients
will be coming from the ranks of the uninsured, we couldn't use the
data that we have internally, but we had to go out and use external
sources of data. … Some of that data is available publicly.
... We also have used Acxiom data to build profiles of communities
so that we could target our marketing message.
Ad Age: What did you find out about your target
Mr. Rodgers: There will be a lot of opportunity
with the Latino market. … The market that we are targeting
is typically younger than our current customer. They are more text
and mobile-enabled vs. PC-enabled. They don't typically have jobs
where they sit in front of computer terminals all day, but they
tend to have a smartphone or at least a mobile phone to get text
messages. So we had to develop campaigns that could work via
Ad Age: Explain the texting campaign.
Mr. Rodgers: We didn't buy mobile phone numbers
and then blanket-text-message people. People had to [volunteer]
them. Some of that [occurred] at events and more of it was
[through] the general messaging that we pushed out [including
through branded digital videos]. We had a lot of people searching
for information about health insurance or the exchanges on YouTube.
The younger generation uses YouTube as a search engine.
Ad Age: Are you using traditional media?
Mr. Rodgers: We are using all of the
traditional media. … This time of year is generally where we
spend a lot of money, because we have various things going on
[including open enrollment for employer-based plans]. We are used
to having a fall media blitz. The things that are a little
different for us are the targeted messages we are doing to reach
individual consumers and to go after some of the newer markets. [We
are] advertising on Spanish-language [media] more than we have in
the past [and] advertising on bus stops that are in certain parts
of towns where we know there are more uninsured.
Ad Age: Describe your creative approach.
Mr. Rodgers: The Blue Cross and Blue Shield brand is so
universally recognized and universally associated with health
insurance. … We also know it's an aspirational brand within
the uninsured marketplace. ... Because of those things, we felt
that it was appropriate to continue our strategy of just general
brand advertising, but to make sure that it's in the places it
needs to be to hit the [new] markets. We didn't necessarily need a
new message; we just needed to be where [the consumers] are.